At Stamford Hospital: Thinking Outside the Medicine BoxDec 19, 2010 09:48PM ● By Scott Orstad
At Stamford Hospital: Thinking Outside the Medicine Box
More of us are taking an active role in monitoring our health these days. We’re looking for new ways to reduce stress and pain, to relieve the side effects of a conventional therapy or to decrease the risk of heart disease without the use of Western medications. Studies have shown that approximately 38 percent of American adults and 12 percent of children use some form of complementary medicine in an effort to treat the whole person, not just the disease. Some patients and physicians combine Western scientific medicine with such complementary treatments as herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage, yoga, and stress reduction techniques. This approach is known as Integrative Medicine.
Founded in 2008, Stamford Hospital’s Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness, an outpatient consultative service, is a valuable resource for such patients. The Center’s doctors are trained in conventional and complementary medicine, and work closely with their patients’ primary care physicians and other specialists to create an effective treatment plan. All the techniques used at the Center are evidence-based and are backed by clinical trials.
Patient treatment plans at the Center might include acupuncture or acupressure, trigger point injections, special diets, botanical and supplement consulting, Reiki and mind-body therapies such as breathing techniques and guided imagery, a visualization technique. The physicians develop an evidence-based, safe multidisciplinary plan that addresses the problem at hand and suits a patient’s preference. For example, a patient who would benefit from acupuncture but is afraid of needles can be taught acupressure.
During its first year the Center had 2,700 visits from adults and children with a variety of conditions, including metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.
“The Integrative Medicine approach focuses on healing the whole person--mind, body and spirit,” explains Dr. Marc Brodsky, medical director of the Center. “At the Center, we learn about each of our patients’ medical conditions, health goals, lifestyle, and stress and energy levels, and we provide not only immediate relief for their symptoms but also the inspiration and skills to empower them to make positive changes in their lives for long-term health.”
“The main advantage of Integrative Medicine is that it combines modern medical knowledge with ancient complementary practices and offers patients the best of both worlds,” says Kathleen Sanders, APRN, FNP, Integrative Nurse Practitioner at the Center.
The Center specializes in several health areas:
Patients at risk of heart disease can take advantage of the Dean Ornish program, which teaches lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise and stress reduction and offers group support to reverse heart disease. The program is proven to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and anxiety and promote weight loss.
According to Dr. Brodsky, the Center treats a variety of pain conditions, including headaches, neck pain, temporomandibular joint and lower back pains, knee arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Ways to relieve pain and improve quality of life may include non-narcotic medication consultation, acupuncture, trigger point injections, and acupressure lessons.
Stress and anxiety can also be managed with the help of acupuncture, Reiki, breathing techniques, and guided imagery, which is also available for pre- and post-operative patients. Consultation on how to improve exercise, diet and sleep patterns contributes to long-term health improvements.
The Center’s specialists use herbal supplements and homeopathic medicines, supported by clinical trials, to help treat a variety of medical conditions. “We have seen cases where botanicals have helped people lower their cholesterol and increase bone density to almost normal levels without the use of traditional medications,” says Dr. Joseph Feuerstein, director of integrative medicine at the Center. “The botanicals can also work in combination with traditional medications and even help reduce their required dosage.”
Some patents can benefit from the Center’s nutritional consultations, when special diets are prescribed to treat and relieve certain conditions. An example of a successful diet treatment might be a diabetic patient who is no longer dependent on insulin.
Stamford Hospital’s Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness accepts patients by appointment and through referrals, and the services are covered by most health insurance plans. For more information, call 203.276.4777 or visit StamfordHospitalIntegrative.com.